Paving the path to sustainability
Transforming quarrying for a more efficient future…
The quarrying industry, essential for supplying raw materials for construction and infrastructure development, faces critical environmental challenges. Energy-intensive processes, emissions and resource consumption have prompted the need for sustainable solutions. Here David Strain, technical director at quarrying systems integrator Technidrive, explores how the industry is undergoing a transformation towards efficient practices, with an emphasis on energy use, resource optimisation and renewable power.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions attributable to the mining and quarrying industry in the United Kingdom amounted to nearly 17 million metric tons in 2020. Embracing the vision of a greener future, quarrying companies are now looking to minimise their environmental impact while maintaining operational efficiency. The focus has often been on making individual processes, such as rock blasting, crushing and screening, more energy efficient.
However, the key to a truly energy efficient quarry lies in optimising the entire operation. But where should site managers start when considering upgrades to legacy equipment and aging infrastructure?
Quarry equipment design
Sustainable quarrying goes beyond operational efficiency, it necessitates responsible land management and ecosystem conservation. That being said, choosing the correct equipment is probably the most frequent opportunity to be more sustainable. The same can be said when considering equipment packages.
For example, in one jaw crushing application, Technidrive developed a turnkey solution using a WEG W22 premium efficiency IE3 motor, motor controllers and alternators. The equipment was chosen specifically due to its superior efficiency, reduced energy consumption, cost effective performance, high radial load capacity and impressive productivity — as well as delivering a cost reduction for the end user. Moreover, by using entirely WEG products, Technidrive was able to offer a three-year warranty and ensure the system worked optimally in unison.
Traditional motor control systems and outdated technologies often result in energy wastage and increased emissions. By installing cost effective electric motor sensors, quarry managers can monitor the efficiency of their entire motor fleet, thus making informed decisions. By adopting such technology, quarries can significantly reduce their carbon emissions, aligning their operations with sustainable practices that support global efforts to combat climate change.
Optimising resource use
Resource efficiency also plays a crucial role in achieving sustainability in quarries and a key area of loss is material transportation. Traditional conveyor systems often lack precision, leading to wasteful material handling and higher operational costs. By leveraging advanced solutions that incorporate real-time data from sensors on site, quarries can ensure precise material transport, minimising resource wastage and enhancing overall efficiency.
This approach not only promotes eco-conscious practices but also provides a tangible economic advantage through cost savings and improved resource management. For example, when drilling and blasting operations are better aligned with crushing and screening processes, the material flow can be optimised, leading to reduced downtime and improved efficiency.
Harnessing renewable energy
Renewable energy integration marks a significant step towards sustainable quarrying. The adoption of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels or wind turbines, to power quarry equipment and motor control systems can reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Embracing such energy solutions makes the quarrying industry more resilient and independent from volatile energy markets, while also contributing to a cleaner, greener energy future.
The quarrying industry has tons of potential to become more sustainable. As the industry strives towards this goal, it will be important to focus on improving energy efficiency by using smart industrial equipment, optimising resource usage, and incorporating renewable energy sources.